“Then the rich man said, ‘Please, Father Abraham, at least send him to my father’s home. For I have five brothers, and I want him to warn them so they don’t end up in this place of torment.’
But Abraham said, ‘Moses and the prophets have warned them. Your brothers can read what they wrote.’
The rich man replied, ‘No, Father Abraham! But if someone is sent to them from the dead, then they will repent of their sins and turn to God.’ But Abraham said, ‘If they won’t listen to Moses and the prophets, they won’t listen even if someone rises from the dead.'”Luke 16:27-31
I gave you the wider picture yesterday in the segments I clipped from Luke. I haven’t finished with those yet, but will leave them with you to think about for a day or so. Some have responded to me since the last Gem and told me that was too much to think about for one day. Ok, take some more time to think about it. I will pull the threads together in a few days.
Today, let’s look at the identity of the five brothers. I shared one option in Gem 1077 in the “complicated solution”:
- Abraham = Abraham
- Lazarus = Lazarus of Bethany
- The rich man = Caiaphus (the High Priest)
- Father = Annas
- Five Brothers = Eleazar, Jonathan, Theophilus, Matthias, Annas (the Younger)
It all seems too contrived to me but that is one solution. Because this is a story, then many assume there is some hidden symbolism in the number five, which holds the key to understanding this reference. Since the sons of Abraham are in focus, then who of the offspring of Abraham had five brothers? There were 12 sons of Jacob. But there were six sons of Leah – Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar and Zebulun. Thus Judah was one of Leah’s six sons, so he had five brothers! This links the five brothers to the southern Kingdom of Judah!
There are numbers of references in Scripture to five representing the whole: the family, the clan, the tribe, the people of Israel.
He took five men from among his brothers and presented them to Pharaoh.Genesis 47:2
So the sons of Dan sent from their family five men out of their whole number, valiant men from Zorah and Eshtaol, to spy out the land and to search it; and they said to them, “Go, search the land.” And they came to the hill country of Ephraim, to the house of Micah, and lodged there.Judges 18:2
Tamar his daughter-in-law bore him Perez and Zerah. Judah had five sons in all.
The sons of ZerahwereZimri, Ethan, Heman, Calcol and Dara; five of them in all.1Chronicles 2:4, 6
and Hashubah, Ohel, Berechiah, Hasadiah and Jushab-hesed, five.1Chronicles 3:20
The son of Uzzi was Izrahiah. And the sons of Izrahiah were Michael, Obadiah, Joel, Isshiah; all five of them were chief men.
The sons of Bela were five: Ezbon, Uzzi, Uzziel, Jerimoth and Iri. They were heads of fathers’ households, mighty men of valour, and were 22,034 enrolled by genealogy.1Chronicles 7:3, 7
“Five of them were foolish, and five were prudent.Matthew 25:2
for from now on five members in one household will be divided, three against two and two against three.Luke 12:52
For I have five brethren,…. Meaning his brethren and countrymen, according to the flesh; who when he was alive, stood in such a relation to him; said to be “five”, an allusion to the children of Israel coming out of Egypt,”by fives”, or five in a rank, (Exod 13:18)It iscertain that these five brothers were Jews, since they had the writings of Moses and the prophets with them, Luke 16:29. Wherefore I shall venture to propose another conjecture: it is plain that there were “six” brethren in all; let it be observed then, that the Jewish nation were usually divided into “three” parts, “priests, Levites, and Israelites”; of these three the great sanhedrim usually consisted; and these read the law every sabbath day; first a priest, then a Levite, and then “five Israelites”;(let that number also be remarked;) now these were again divided into “three” sects, “Pharisees, Sadducees”, and “Essenes”. The former of these are represented in this parable; [this is only conjecture]: it may be, that the twice five, or ten tribes of Israel, which were not known where they were, nor are they to this day, may be designed by a “synecdoche”- A figure of speech is which a part is used to represent the whole or the whole for a part.
Some appeal to the symbolism of “five” contained in the gematria of the word. The sense of the number five in numeric symbolism is “grace”. So in this scenario, the rich man is appealing to Abraham for grace. “Have mercy on me Father Abraham . . . and on my family.”
Five brothers -The number “five” is mentioned merely to preserve the appearance of similiarity in the story (The appearance of being true or real). It is not to be spiritualized, nor are we to suppose that it has any hidden or inscrutable meaning.
Well there you have the options. It means something symbolic from a highly complicated means of working out the symbolism to rather simple alternatives all the way down to there is no symbolism there whatsoever and the meaning is just simply “the rich man had 5 brothers”. Only that, nothing more complicated. You weigh up what you think about it.
Family is the most important thing in the world.Princess Diana
Family is not an important thing. It’s everything.Michael J. Fox
In family life, love is the oil that eases friction, the cement that binds closer together, and the music that brings harmony.Eva Burrows
The family is the link to our past and the bridge to our future.Alex Haley
A true [brother] is one who overlooks your failures and tolerates your success.Doug Larson